A Social Identity Analysis of Leadership Endorsement: The Effects of Leader Ingroup Prototypicality and Distributive Intergroup Fairness
This study (N = 216) measured the strength of endorsements for ingroup leaders who varied in both their relative ingroup prototypicality and distributive intergroup fairness. Leadership endorsement overall was positively related to group members’ levels of social identification and negatively related to their levels of reported self-interest. Among low identifiers, however, leaders’ distributive behavior reliably predicted endorsements, with stronger endorsements provided for distributively fair than unfair leaders. Among high identifiers, in contrast, both leaders’ distributive behavior and relative ingroup prototypicality were important. Leaders high in ingroup prototypicality received strong endorsements from high identifiers regardless of the leaders’ ingroup-favoring, outgroup-favoring, or fair intergroup behavior. Leaders low in ingroup prototypicality and who were relatively similar to the outgroup received strong endorsements from high identifiers only when the leaders made ingroup-favoring distributions. These data are interpreted within a social identity theory framework.